He was a woman

In Lotus Eaters Bloom jumps from thinking that a woman has recently played the part of Hamlet (fact), to wondering whether the hero of Shakespeare's play might secretly have been a woman (one literary critic's published speculation), to supposing that this might explain Ophelia's suicide (his own whimsical contribution). In Scylla and Charybdis John Eglinton too links the recent performance by a woman with the theory that "the prince was a woman." His remarks are directed against overly ingenious theories in general, Stephen's most certainly included, but it seems possible that Joyce may have included the reference to Edward Vining's theory here because it typifies 19th century understandings of Hamlet that Stephen is strenuously opposing.

John Hunt 2022

Poster advertising Mrs. Bandmann-Palmer's six performances at Dublin's Gaiety Theatre during the week of 16 June 1904. Source: chem.engr.utc.edu.

Mrs. Bandmann-Palmer as Hamlet, in an 1899 photograph. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet at the Adelphi Theatre in 1899. Source: margotfonteyns.tumblr.com.